Kevin James starrer will be released on July 8, 2011

In what it characterized as a vote of confidence, Sony has announced it will push back its Kevin James starrer “Zookeeper” from Oct. 8 to a more robust summer slot on July 8, 2011.

Studio said it recently held a research screening of the film to enthusiastic reactions.

“Zookeeper” is now skedded to bow a week before Paramount’s third “Transformers” pic, and two weeks ahead of Warner Bros.’ final “Harry Potter” installment.

“This film is going to be a big complement to our summer,” said Sony distrib topper Rory Bruer. “It’s a movie that’s going to play to everybody.”

Comedy pic tells the story of a herd of talking zoo animals who help their keeper find true love. Along with James, the film’s voice cast includes Sylvester Stallone, Adam Sandler, Jon Favreau and Cher.

Frank Coraci, who directed Sandler in “Click” and “The Wedding Singer,” helmed “Zookeeper.”

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